You Have Done Well

Some days I pause to read God’s Word, expecting great new insight or encouragement, only to finish without receiving such things. Though I never regret investing my time this way.

Other days, I pause to read with few expectations, only to be met by the most intimate communication from my Creator. Such was Thursday morning – Praise the Lord!

On Thursday mornings we have three get-the-kids-to-school shifts. Lydia needs to be to school by 6:45 AM for orchestra; Ruth, Charis and Caleb by 7:40 for their school day to begin; Lukas to pre-school by 9:00.

Like many other early Thursday mornings, I made Lydia’s lunch and fed her breakfast, then my husband Cyrus took her to school and headed for the YMCA to get some exercise. Between their departure and the waking of the next round of kiddos, I had a few moments to dip my mind into the renewing water of the Word. I’ve been reading through the Psalms and Thursday’s chapter was 110. It’s a shorter Psalm, a messianic one too, but I honestly don’t remember much of it’s content even now. I figured it must just be one of those days where reading the Word was more of an act of diligence than an experiential delight.

After that initial dip in Scripture, it was time to reenter the reality of getting cranky sleepy kids out of bed and ready for the day. Then came more lunches and more breakfasts and a drive to school and back (all while still in my PJs). At home with only one child, I found a few moments to eat my breakfast, sip my tea, and drink in more of the Word. Mercifully, Lukas occupied himself quite nicely for twenty minutes or so – hallelujah!

Philippians chapters three and four were next on my agenda. Powerful messages can be found in those words, phrases, sentences. And powerful was the whisper of the Lord as I journeyed through these familiar pages.

Our great Author used two particular verses to speak to my heart in ways I wasn’t even aware I needed! And what He spoke to me in those heavenly moments, He may want to speak to some of you.

It’s a message for the mothers, the servers, the helpers, the caretakers. It’s a message for all who lay down their lives for another.

In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul reveals to us how he manages to be content with little or much in this life, and that the secret is Christ’s strength. But then he adds one more short verse, sort of a tagline to the paragraph: “Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” (verse 14).

Those few words washed over my soul as a much needed affirmation, and tears of relief and peace began to trickle down my cheeks. It was as if the Lord was saying to me, “I see you, you are doing well!”

In my minds eye, I saw my husband, my children, friends, specific people whom God has called me to walk with through this life. And they were saying to me, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, “Thank you. You’ve been by my side. You’ve walked with me through shadows. You’ve shared my pain, my affliction. You have done well.”

Though most of the faces I saw in my mind may never actually say such things, God said them to me in their place.

And that’s the message I want to pass on to you too. How rarely we as moms or caretakers or counselors or helpers hear these words from those we give our energies to. But regardless of others’ recognition, God sees and He knows. God sees when we join our lives with the afflicted; whether it’s a band-aid on a skinned knee, a shoulder to cry on when pre-teen friendships wreak havoc, hours sacrificed to walk alongside a friend in pain, or money given to protect the ‘least of these’ in a foreign country.

Just as Paul recognized the great love of the Philippians toward him in their sharing of his afflictions, God sees you when you give of yourself for the sake of another. And you are doing well to do so!!!

But that’s not the whole message.

I grabbed a nearby napkin, dabbed my eyes, wiped my nose. Feeling enveloped in affirmation, I continued to read the rest of chapter four. And it only took a few more verses before the Lord struck my heart once more. I read, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (verse 19)

In my teary eyed, pajama clad moment with the Lord, this verse became a more personal promise to me than ever before. God knows I’m in need of His help as a mother, wife, and minister in His kingdom. And not only does He see and affirm my service to others, but He has and will continue to provide the love and wisdom I so desperately require in order to carry on.

As we continue to help, to mother, to care for, to stand with the afflicted, we can rest in His resource, in His rich supply. We can bear one another’s burdens because Christ has borne ours on the cross of Calvary.

So, my fellow laborers (pun intended :)), remember today that your God sees you, is pleased with you, and will continue to strengthen you! No matter what anyone else says or doesn’t say, you can rest in knowing Your Creator knows all.

May this truth envelop you in God’s love and affirmation the way it did me this past Thursday morning.

We can rest in God’s estimation of us rather than other people’s opinions when we work as unto the Lord. Our service to others is a means by which we ultimately serve God, so it’s His opinion that matters. In this, we are Aiming At Heaven.

Thank you for stopping by today and I pray you are encouraged by what you’ve read! If you’d like to subscribe to Aiming At Heaven and receive email notification of new posts and content, simply sign up below.

God Bless!


Shards of Light

Delight is changing my vision.

The hymn writer says, Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

I’ve experienced these words. A glimpse of Glory makes all else seem false, dirty, drab.

But that’s not all I see anymore. What I once perceived as dim in comparison to the glory of God is being pierced through by that same glory. My view of the night-sky-darkness of this planet, of its people, no longer is utterly void. I see stars. I see brightness. I see Light. I see the presence of God. It’s always been there; I’ve failed to see it for far too long. Delight is focusing my vision, giving Light to my eyes to see the imprints of Majesty all around.

Delight is giving me a lense to see shards of Light in the people and circumstances and creation all around.

So as a framework with which to tell of our family’s recent trip to Mexico, let me tell you of the shards of Light that lit up our moments south of the border.


1. Pastor Alfredo and his wife, Connie. Alfredo is the pastor of Agua Vive church in Tobasco, Mexico that our church had a part in planting over 30 years ago. This lovely couple is full of the joy of the Lord and dedicated to His work. I told Connie, as we said goodbye, that even though I only met her a few days prior, I felt as though I had known her for years. This connection is only possible because we are sisters in Christ; we’ve been serving side by side for years without even knowing it. How many more faithful men and women across the globe am I, are you, spiritually hand in hand with? This is Light in the darkness!

2. There is more brilliant Light in this one photograph than it could possibly capture. For it holds in its sight eternity. It caa moment in which a decades old child of God gives of himself to the one day old infant of God. Both beloved in the sight of God. Both eternally His. Pray for the growth of this young man.

3. Would you believe that I even recognized shards of Light when we visited a local dump? Even there, in the filth and stench that some people called home, I saw the imprint of God’s image in the way people managed to bring a sense of material order – sorting piles of tires, scrap metal, etc… – as well as social order – at the entrance to the dump we passed by the ‘mayor’ of the dump and his scrap built house (wish I would have captured a picture of the ‘order’ of the dump, but, oh well). Surely this ability to bring order from chaos is God’s thumbprint on all humanity. So I saw God in the dump.

4. The day we visited the dump, its inhabitants trickled in to see what we brought and hear what we would say. I wondered if what we were doing could really make a difference in their lives. We came bearing sandwiches and Bibles, but few were actually literate. What we brought was a mere drop in the ocean of their true and felt need. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to look up. Look up more. The dump was big, but the cloudless blue sky was bigger. God is bigger. He knows the hearts of every man, woman and child living there. He knows their need is the same as my need and your need – our need is for Him far more than it is for lunch. And He is bigger. And He is working. So we can trust Him and do our part. Shards of Light.


5. Translators. Our team’s father/daughter duo, Gabriel and Lupe, as well as our girls, played what was probably the most crucial role for our team while in Mexico. I loved watching them all use the skills that God has given them to love Him and love others! I think if I could have one super power it would be the ability to converse in any language.


6. There is nothing that grows my respect for my husband more than when I watch him preach. I got to watch him in action on a couple different occasions.Every word of the Lord declared by one of His children is a shard of Light, cutting through the veil of darkness.

7. Our group boarded for the week at a church dormitory in Quintano Roo. A group of half a dozen or so women gathered daily to prepare food for our group. We’re talking homemade tortillas, homemade fire-roasted salsas, all the good stuff. It took them time, but it was time they willingly gave. They even sent us home with some of their tortillas! Yum! They blessed us so. And our group was able to do the same! Before we left, we surprised them with a new refrigerator!! The one they had was not functioning consistently. It is a blessing, a shard of Light, to generously give and gratefully receive!

8. Friday Firmament. Of all the pictures I wish I’d taken, this one is at the top of the list. Though I’m not sure I could have accomplished such a feat. As we pulled away for the last time, early Friday morning, the sky held a sight that, in my opinion, rivals the total solar eclipse of last summer. We were driving North in our caravan of vans. On our right, the earliest of morning’s light was peaking over the horizon. And to our left, a mammoth, monstrous luna – it hung just over the crisp edge of mountains far to the west. Its blazing copper-rust presence loomed large and sunk quickly. There’s something awe-inspiring about not only seeing the moon, but being able to discern its movement. What often seems static is very much alive. Gargantuan orbs really are hurtling through space! I will never forget this duo of sunrise and moon set. Glorious shards of Light!!

Cyrus and I are so thankful we were able to be a part of this trip along with most of our kids. We are deeply grateful to those of you who supported us with prayer and finances. You we shards of the Light of God in our lives!! May we be the same for you. God is good!

Joy-empowered Suffering

I have to confess something. I was afraid to observe Lent. Coming on the heels of my pursuit of delight (you can read that post here – Softening and Delight), Lent seemed a logical contradiction. Also, there’s that whole fear of failing thing.

But I’m beginning to understand that maybe denying self IS delight. Maybe suffering IS softening.

Three weeks, now, into Lent. Three weeks of nothing sweet. At first I felt my choice of fasting from sweets was cliche’, and I cringe at the thought of being cliche’. I chose to give up anything sweet to the tongue because I knew it would be a challenge for me. To fully recognize the impact of self denial we have to deny something we will truly miss. This verse was another inspiration for my choice of fasting from sweets:


I wanted to fast from what is sweet to the tongue and focus on what is sweet to the soul.

The first few days were more difficult than I expected. And you know how ‘they’ say after a few days your craving for sweets goes away? Wrong. Three weeks in and I’m dreaming of sweet cinnamony chai tea lattes, among other things.

As I was dwelling on my lack the other day, and maybe feeling a little self pity too, the Holy Spirit brought a verse to mind.

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”       Hebrews 12:2

For the joy set before Him.

Jesus could see the joy waiting for Him on the other side of the cross. Jesus set His mind on the joy that was ahead of Him. Joy enabled Jesus to endure.

There is absolutely no comparison between abstaining from sweets and dying on a cross, but I’m beginning to discern a life principle in the midst of it all.

Jesus’ 33 years of human life leading up to His death on the cross were anything but delightful, circumstantially speaking. He was by no means rich, despised by His brothers and many others, God bound by flesh, tempted as we are, persecuted, rejected, killed. Yet it was joy all along. It was joy that sustained Him as He was beaten and ridiculed. It was joy that helped the Son endure the separation and wrath of His Father for the sake of sinful humanity. It was focusing on the final outcome that mingled in delight with the sorrow. The future promise made the present bearable.

I suppose this is true of any suffering great or small; from not eating sweets, to severe health issues, to financial difficulties, to persecution – fill in your own blank___________. We don’t even need examples to understand what suffering is.

But what if the mingling of delight in with the sorrow is possible for us too? I think it is! In many ways, we know the outcome just as Jesus did! We know, or at least can know by studying the Word, what the future holds. We know of new bodies and tears wiped away. We know of a new name and an end to pain. We know of growth into the likeness of Christ and the reward of crowns because of the Life of Christ in us. We know all this and so much more!

I also know that Resurrection Day is coming – woo hoo! And I’ll get to enjoy some tasty treats, yum! My mind is shifting from what I don’t have now to what I will have in the near future. And it’s making the lack a little more delightful. It’s softening my heart to the goodness of God and the miraculous Life of His Son.

Suffering and self-denial never have to be purposeless. Viewed in light of Christ’s joy-empowered suffering and surrendered to His molding, our suffering will produce more in us than a life of ease ever could.

A soft heart is a vulnerable heart, even willing to receive the faithful yet painful strokes of the Artist. Yes, we are but dust, but this dust-clay has nerve endings and thin skin, fatigue and fears, blood and tears. Jesus did too. He knows the pain and He showed us the way through it.

“Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they my unite my heart more closely with thee.”  ~ Susanna Wesley

These are the words of a softening heart. A heart of delight in the midst of sorrow.


I don’t think there’s any earthly endeavor in which we can’t Aim at Heaven. I pray that we all learn to have this perspective as we travel this sod. If you’d like to be kept informed of new Aiming at Heaven posts, you can subscribe via email below.

Thank you!

May you grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Of Daffodils and Death

Can Lent and delight co-exist?

Delight. My year word. My life word.

I’m learning it, growing into it, rejoicing in it.

But angst, resistance, and fear are weaving their sinews into my heart. I don’t know what to do with Lent.

Never before have I participated in the season, but it’s coming down on me now and it feels unmistakably like duty. But what am I supposed to do with this burdensome sense of duty when I’m convinced the thrust of my life, of grace life, is to break free from duty toward God and rest in mutual delight of one another?

I’m like a duty-addict, just recovering, facing my greatest temptation yet.

Of course I can give things up. I can fast. I have a decent amount of willpower in some areas; I could conquer Lent and prove myself to myself and to others and to God. How great and worthy I must be. But it’d all be a facade. It would have the appearance of holiness but the heart of a filthy prideful tomb.

This is not the path of delight. This is not the path I want to travel.

So how do I reconcile the two? How can I observe this ancient practice of Lent that has its roots in ‘doing-penance’ – as if there’s anything I can do to save myself – and a theological background surrounded by and crammed full of duty?

It’s not the observance of festivals and ceremony that make me right before God, it’s the sacrifice of His Son – my delight.

He denied the flesh. He fasted and sacrificed. He did what I can’t – what none of us can. So what’s the purpose of Lent?

What’s the value of picking one thing to abstain from for a short period of time, probably to gorge on it before and afterward? And do I pick something easy or difficult? Does it matter?

God, I know this season is not commanded by your Word, nor prescribed as a practice to achieve some level of holiness. By practicing this, you will love me no more than you already do now. It will not change my inherent value in You. Yet, for various reasons, I need to observe and participate. As daffodils are coming to life, I must put something to death. Dead to sin, alive to righteousness. I have died with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. Your grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts – lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, the boastful pride of life. Considering all loss compared to the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ – who loved Himself and gave Himself for us – who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. 

Just there. Is that the glimmer of delight in all of this? Is that the Heavenly Light coming to pierce us to the dividing of bone and marrow? Is that the assurance I need – glory brightness and delight, thinly veiled by the pain and darkness of self-denial?

There. There it is. The short path of suffering, denying oneself, is of minuscule length along the path of eternal delight and joy. But it is the same path.

I will delight in self-denial. It’s the pattern my Savior set for me. I will delight in self-denial because it comes from love and longing for the ways of Jesus. It was His love that led Him to deny His fullness, to become lowly, to go without. It was not duty that saved us, it was His loving delight in His creation that reconciled and redeemed us. God loves us and sent His Son – a sacrifice. This is the nature of true delight.

I don’t have to observe Lent. But this year I chose to. And it is delight that will save me this Lent season. It will save me from my self-righteousness and pride. It will guide me in love.

Delight will rescue us all from duty.

Softening and Delight

What if God desires my delight in Him rather than my sense of duty to Him? What if we love Him more by finding pleasure in Him than by proving ourselves to Him?


The thought seized me and trapped me. It locked me in an escape room and I’m still working my way out. This flash of an idea: My life has been a journey from duty towards delight. From law to grace. I’m growing up and out of a heart motivated by fear, into a heart compelled by Love. 

Perhaps this is every child of God’s journey.

But the theme of the journey that keeps ringing in my ear is delight.

Problem is, I’m not good at delighting.

My delight receptors are naturally filmed over with a thick layer of duty and fear. There’s no time for pleasure when I’m consumed with a try-harder and be-better life of proving myself to God, others, and self.

But slowly, oh so slowly, I’m learning what it means to delight in God and how to actually, practically do it.


I’ve heard riffs on this passage more times than I can count from speakers, writers, preachers, and peers. Usually with an emphasis on the second part. It’s one of those passages that’s so overdone I hadn’t given it attention in quite a while. But as I ponder delight, I can’t avoid it any longer.

Delight, in Hebrew awnag, in this passage means to be soft or pliable.

What on earth? What does softness and pliability have to do with delight?

Maybe there’s something tucked away in this Psalm that I’ve been missing.

We are warned throughout Scripture that hardness of heart leads to hardness and rebellion toward God.

But still, what is it about the softening of our hearts that God desires?


I’ve never made any type of pottery, but I learned (thank you internet) that clay needs conditioning before it is ready to be molded. That in it’s raw state it would crack and break and melt into an oozing mess in the furnace. But if it is conditioned and softened, that lump of earth becomes pliable and easy to work with, ready to be formed and molded into the manifestation of the artist’s vision, able to withstand the furnace and maintain its shape.

So the softened heart.

A soft heart is impressionable, moldable, formable. The soft heart receives the Artist’s touch with pleasure, humbly accepting and desiring the push and pull of the Artist’s hands, the smoothing strokes of His plan. This plan is a mystery to the clay, but a grand vision in the mind of the Artist.

And as the Artist forms the vessel He forms its desire as well.

He forms cups waiting to be filled and overflowing with refreshing drink. Vases longing for the adornment of cascading blooms. Dishes spread wide to be filled with sumptuous morsels.

Only after we are formed according to the Artist’s plan do we truly know our desires and God given shape. Unless I receive His touch and His imprint, I don’t know my own heart, my own desires.

But of first necessity is the softening heart, the delighting heart.

So I’m pursuing delight, not duty. It’s not so much my word of the year as the trajectory of my life. I’m softening, not stiffening.

I’m receiving His touch through The Word and creation and circumstances. Push.

I’m allowing feelings to rise to the surface rather than locking them up in dungeon places – and spilling them out in His presence. Pull.

I’m embracing trials as well as blessings. I’m tearing down self-made fortress walls between myself and everybody else. Smooth.

I’m allowing myself to be effected by The Cause. To rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Become.

God takes pleasure in our unrestrained delight of Him – a heart soft in His hand.



He desires our love rather than our lawfulness. Our delight rather than duty.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30&31

I’m beginning to realize that it’s delighting in God alone that will enable me to be what He desires and experience His love overflowing in my soul!

Maybe on the outside the results of this changing mindset will not be discernible. But The Discerner of Hearts, His is the opinion that matters. He sees the motivations and He is the Rewarder of those who walk with Him and produce fruit from His Spirit, not their own hands.

Hands. My hands make a mess of my heart. Only God’s can make it something beautiful.

I’ve wasted too much time trying to give Him worth-proving works with these dirty hands.

He’s reaching past my hands and taking my heart instead and whispering, “delight in Me, soften to my touch, enjoy My loving artistry in your life.”


Creator, Potter, Author,

I want to delight in You. And that is Your desire too.When I walk in duty, trying to be something on my own, shatter my hard heart with Your grace. And as I learn to delight, help me to soften and be transformed by the pleasant and refining touch of Your hand. Thank You for first delighting in me so that I may in turn delight in You. 



Delight is a heart attitude I am pursuing while Aiming at Heaven. I invite you to walk alongside me by signing up to follow the blog (see bottom of page). And as always, I love to hear from you and am often encouraged by what you share, so leave a comment if you’d like!